I’m sticking with non-fiction again this month and re-reading Suzi Gablik’s ‘Has Modernism Failed’ (ISBN: 0-500-27385-5). This was gifted to me by my best friend about twenty years ago after she had to read it for her media studies course, I think she’d found it in a second-hand bookshop as it’s spine was damaged. The book cover design doesn’t include a shadow over the author’s name. It’s my shadow!
Suzi Gablik’s author page at amazon.co.uk [non-affiliate link, no association] I’d definitely enjoy reading more of this author/artist’s books, I’m intrigued to read more of her writing – and I really should read the preceeding book, ‘Progress in Art’.
In the first chapter of ‘Has Modernism Failed’ Gablik raises the dangerous overinstitutalisation of art (this was first published in 1984, but still seems entirely contemporary and incredibly relevant):
‘With art and artists breeding like bacteria under favorable conditions … America fabricates as many graduate artists every five years as there were people in fifteenth century Florence… This rise in quantity has in no way led to a rise in quality, though few have had the courage to say so. The overwhelming spectacle of current art… has ushered in an impenetrable pluralism of competing approaches.’
It doesn’t tell the reader how many in number the population of Florence in the fifteenth century actually was, but delivers a picture enough of the saturation of individuals qualifying as artists and perhaps entering the professional field.
Gablik also describes ‘the legacy of Modernism’ as leaving the artist standing alone and having lost their shadow. References to the non-specific artist in this book appears to always be described as ‘He’. I wonder if that’s been changed in recent editions for purposes of ‘equality’. We’re led generally in society to believe art is a male dominated field of activity, and most of the individual artists referenced tend to be men.
Will I read the whole book this month? Or will I lack concentration and fail linear reading? I might stand a chance of cover-to-cover reading if I didn’t try reading anything else or doing anything much. Guess I’ll find out. I haven’t completed reading any of the fiction books raised in my RBRC posts to date other than the children’s books! But I’ll be making notes while I study Gablik’s book (for no reason than interest).
I made good use of the Chinese painting book last month although I skimmed through and skipped much of it, but had no time to enjoy Eastern Wisdom, not that I haven’t enjoyed it previously. Too much A to Z Challenge reading last month frazzled my capacity somewhat. I s’pose I knew it probably would.
It’s reassuring to retain my shadow. If being an artist means losing your shadow, I think I’d sooner hang on to my shadow, thanks.
I’m combining this post as my catch-up with Mliae’s Recycled Book Reading Challenge and as I’ve featured contemporary art issues, catching up with challenges and my own (Colette’s) shadow it can double up as my letter C post for #May-be-A-B. (So my next challenge will be posting a letter D post using a letter B writing prompt!)